[NOTE: This series of blogs is a compilation of reflections from our NewLifeSundayNight trip to Swaziland in March, 2012. A separate absolute monarchy surrounded by South Africa, Swaziland has the highest HIV infection rate in the world. 60% of its population lives on less than USD$1.25 a day. Our church is partnering with Children’s Hope Chest to “sponsor” two communities where orphans and vulnerable children abound. I will say more on this partnership and how the model works in Part 4 of this blog series. My goal in writing this blog series is primarly to help our church understand the nature of this partnership, and to find ways of getting involved.]
We pulled into the CarePoint in the Gege community, only we couldn’t see the CarePoint. The first buildings in sight were part of an abandoned hospital, though calling it a hospital is like calling a lemonade stand a restaurant. We walked around the series of abandoned concrete buildings. Our host was taking us to the slightly elevated cement hole so we could use the bathroom before the children arrived. I kept looking at the abandoned hospital buildings wondering which one was where Pastor Ronald, the local pastor, a Zambian native who had moved here in obedience to God’s call, lived.
We were taken into a small, rectangular concrete building where we could hear from the Pastor Ronald and from Pastor Sam, the “senior pastor,” a man who was the leader of all the AG churches in southern Africa. He shared his vision for the network of churches in Swaziland to each plant ten churches over the next ten years so that they could be “incarnational” in their mission. Then the local pastor, Pastor Ronald, shared his dream for the Gege community: a new church building, with a house so he and his wife could take in some of the orphaned children; then a maize farm to supply the food for their CarePoint; then a pig farm so the community could begin to generate income and become self-sustaining.
The more time we spent with these pastors, the more we saw their compassion. As we visited women and children in their mud huts over the next few days, Pastor Ronald kept saying to me, “You see, pastor, this is the real Africa.” And all I kept thinking was, “You are the real pastor.”
These leaders aren’t on Twitter. They don’t blog. They’re not worried about how many followers they have, or if they’ll write a book, or if their songs will be song in churches on played on the radio. Were I to mention my so-called credentials– my degrees or the books I’ve published or songs I’ve written– they would not care. They have no grid for it. All they know is that I’m a pastor, that our team is from a church in America, and that we’ve come to help them help the children. The children– that’s why Pastor Ronald moved his family from Zambia to live in an abandoned building in a remote part of Swaziland, that’s why he walks miles each day– just to visit these women and children.
Yes, this is the real Africa and these are the real heroes in the Kingdom.